tv Taiwan Outlook PBS October 6, 2013 11:00pm-12:01am PDT
on today's program, we are delighted and a national lighted and honored to have professor kung-yee liang yang-ming university, the professor of, to share his date on -- share his thoughts on the state of higher education in taiwan erie >> i am honored to be here. i am currently the president of the national university. >> you have been the was a -- have been the president of national yang-ming university you -- since 2010. can you give us a general assessment of the state of higher education in taiwan today? >> sure. i think we are facing numerous challenges for higher education in taiwan. the first thing that comes to many people's minds as we are facing a crisis of having fewer newborn born every year. not long ago, it was 200,000 a
year and now it has dropped to about 140,000. i think in a sense the impact of the university is number one. the other one is we are surrounded by regions like hong kong and singapore that are very aggressive in terms of including the faculty members in taiwan. it is a challenge to retain and recruit talent for the university in taiwan. also, one of the topics about hikes in taiwan and for your information, in taiwan, that you u.s. dollar compared to $40,000 for the private university in the states, it is very low and will be difficult to maintain
the high quality of education. in the last five or 10 years or so, we have seen fewer and fewer youngsters interested in pursuing degrees grade in the biomedical areas, not just in yamane, but national taiwan university, and the last five years, we've seen the number of applicants dropped 50%. >> really? >> that is significant. >> is very significant. also in taiwan, the financial situation is not great. i think we are facing serious issues. it used to be that the budget was 100% free for national university, and has dropped below 50%. meanwhile, the concept, the notion of fundraising donation for higher education is still in the infancy stage.
probably to be that's probably the most fundamental one. for professors to think about, to remind themselves from time to time the mission of a higher education, we have the commitment to pursuing higher education. >> thank you for identifying some of the major challenges, but people claim there are so many universities and institutions of higher education in taiwan and that is why you become cutthroat competition in terms of recruiting professors and students. is that the case in your opinion? >> i think so. there's an opportunity for the ministry of education to revisit the issue. are we having too many universities? yes great are they really
fulfilling their mission? there are three different kinds of missions in taiwan. technology and liberal arts. it has been confusing in terms of innovation, but to make sure each of the university knows their mission and try to fulfill their mission and try to not do what they are not meant to do. >> you have been the president of national yamane university since 2010. -- national yang-ming university since 2010. you have been confronted with a not very friendly environment. how do you confront the challenges for your students? more competition from other universities and other places like hong kong or singapore? how do you deal with that? rex this is not unique. one of the things with the health of the government and the national science consul in
particular, they shipped in a good amount of financial support to have a flexible salary. you and i come to the university at the same time. we have the same salary, so there is no merit system. we have a distinguished chair professor, two different kinds, and i think a reasonable salary, hoping we can attract distinguished professors to join us. that is one thing we are doing. you also mentioned fundraising. ne thing i did not have muchng. experience before coming back to taiwan, but i'm working very hard and it's not easy, but my
sense is in taiwan, a lot of people in the industry have a good mind that really want to help but didn't know in what way they can do, i think i see things getting better with efforts and hopefully we can bring some support from the industry. when i talk to them, they are always impressed that we are really committed to education and worry very much about the quality of education in taiwan. that's a good sign. what i mentioned about the fundraising salaries, they are what i call hardware. to me, it is the software that matters the most. when i first come to yang-ming university, i preach for the
notion of cohesiveness. hoping and working together we can make things happen. it is important we all recognize that higher education goes a long way. hoping with their common goal, even though the salary is not as desirable, thinking we are in a unique addition to make decisions for society, i hope we can work together. >> people often talk about the fact that the college graduates produced in taiwan are not really suited for industry or professional needs. that's why there are the recent talks about provided -- about reviving the technical training programs in taiwan. in your opinion, what should be an ideal model for a university?
should it be more concentrated on teaching or technical training or on research? or should it be a combination of all of these? >> we have three different types in the university. a research university for one. i want to take this opportunity to clarify some notions. research in the university doesn't mean we aren't done teaching. to the contrary. he for i came back, i was a faculty member at johns hopkins university. john hopkins is the first research university tarting in 1876. a research university, i was there for many years. my sense is we are trying to pursue excellence but it doesn't mean we are compromised in terms of teaching.
we emphasize the quality of teaching, so you should have both. >> it is not black-and- white. you should have both of them. >> given the fact a lot of industry people are saying we don't reduce quality graduates that can meet industry needs, do you think that's the case with a lot of universities in taiwan? has that criticism been justified? >> this is another thing i'm working on that i recognize there is a gap between the industry in terms of what we need and what we produce. so we are working very hard on their way to gap which hopefully will divide job opportunities for our students. it is one of the reasons we have
phd students. to see where the jobs are coming from. it's not that we don't have it, but in the past few months, we invite the ceos of many industries, why didn't they come and let us know what they need? what we offer in terms of research, there is a match and i encourage them, the students working on the topic of interest to them. in the meantime, it will give them an opportunity to observe is this someone i really want to hire? >> finally, do you think there has been that recognition on the part of students?
this is not only the responsibility of government and that university, but do you think there is the motivation that self-awareness with a lot of students in taiwan that we need to be more competitive not just with ourselves but students from other countries? >> i think so. >> each one of us, you take the responsibility for your own doing. didn't need to be reminded they are on their own way. so they have to prepare themselves. every year, you have the institute for jobhunting and i encourage all students to find out what the industry needs and prepare themselves. that is their job to do. >> we need to take the first break on our program. we will be right back.
>> welcome back to the second part of today's program. we are continuing our conversation with professor kung-yee liang, the president of yang-ming university here in taipei to my taiwan. let me ask you an issue regarding taiwan's higher education and international competitiveness. you mentioned earlier that competition is coming from neighboring countries like mainland china, hong kong and singapore. both in terms of recruiting top professional teaching talents and in terms of recruiting students. how do we in your opinion, how can we deal with this
international competition and make ourselves more competitive? rex i think that is the important issue. one thing i learned about internalization, and i always struggle with what it means. some people thinks -- some people think it means we have to travel abroad but that's not what it means. you can learn that if you stay in taiwan. currently we have about 75 international students. the first thing i learned is that they are by themselves. they work together. they don't assimilate with domestic students. there's not enough effort being made. after i come to yamane, -- after i come to yang-ming university,
i encourage domestic students to integrate with them. that has been making a great deal. there is an international merit and i've talked to some domestic students who say working together i learned a great heel. how they will think differently, that is what this is about. you have to have those kind of viewpoints before you can think about the international competition. that's one thing i feel we need to clarify about this notion. you ask what we can learn, so in particular, we have a lot of exchange student programs. encourage students to take a half year break. that is one thing to broaden your scope and embrace different
cultures. that is one thing that can be done. we are working on that. it is challenging in that we have eight undergraduate programs. six of them need to be certified. if you go abroad for six months or do something similar to what you perceive, you are going to get behind. i encourage them. you are young. one year behind means little to you. it's not that much. in return, if you have a chance to study and go abroad and rotted your scope, that is something really worth it. we are trying to do more. we encourage our students to attend the international conference. that's another thing
that hopefully they can integrate with as far as students or scholars. also, we establish collaborations with the leading universities in other countries. that's an example with ucsd in california san diego, which is one of the top programs in engineering and medicine in particular. so we have a symposium every year. once a year, we will be in taiwan. one year we will be there. we do a rotation for two months. we have five students every year . >> it is eye-opening for them. >> they can see how other students in their country, how hard they are working.
so they are not complaining anymore and also we have joined a research program funded by the national science council with the hope that we will make our centers for medical science one of the best in the world. >> given these rogue grams yamane has been doing, do you think yamane and other prominent universities in taiwan are on the right track in terms of the global trend of higher education question mark more international collaboration? more students visiting different universities for a semester or for a full year. these are the things indicating taiwan's higher education is making adjustments and the adjustments are putting taiwan on the right track. >> i think so, but let's put things in perspective.
i am more familiar with the situation in the united states. the current environment is such that they are facing a serious financial crisis. so there are a lot of cuts in terms of salary and budgetary support. they have become more protective and conservative and they have less foreign students prepare -- compared to the past area that is one trend i have noticed. the other thing is with the advancement of high-tech, conventional classroom teaching is subject to challenge. now with high-tech, we do something different. you take your courses, make them
available worldwide online. that is another trend i've noticed and i think taiwan is doing that as well. but i want to make a point on that. maybe i am more conservative than other people. i think that kind of arrangement is very helpful and i see examples of that and the students benefit from such an arrangement. i'd like to think especially for a medical education, there's no substitute for the interpersonal interactions. there's something to be said about having face to face discussion, i to eye contact. those kinds of things to me should not be replaced altogether. so this is what i see and i like to think we in taiwan are embracing that. i believe we are on the right track. >> if it is any consolation, you are not conservative at all because i agree with your viewpoint. i think there are same -- there are some things that cannot he
replaced by online education. there are still the needs for people to meet in person and show a sense of commitment in the subject areas they are pursuing. >> exactly. >> talking about international competitiveness, we often discuss the issue of whether we should have more english teaching courses in taiwan. that has been the trend in the last few years. in your view, since you have been teaching in the united states for many years, and in taiwan also, is that one of the things that can help taiwanese university students become more competitive? >> by having more courses taught in english? >> i think it would help. not at the pace some people would like to see.
we have an international health program in place more than 10 years ago and i've checked quite a few students in south america and asia as well. they are coming to pick up the notion of public health and return to the country afterward. eventually, they become the leader in health service. that is one of them. maybe i am conservative. i think it's good to have such an arrangement for but not at the expense of quality teaching. to me, the first thing is to make sure we have good quality and teaching in general before
we come into english teaching. >> there are some of the international exchange or grams. do you sense it is more encouraged or more motivated to pursue a semester or year of a foreign institution in taiwan? >> in yang-ming university, slowly. it will take time. you need to be licensed, so it is difficult. the mindset needs to be changed. i'm encouraging parents as well to meet with the parents of freshman and remind them of this opportunity that they need to look for the long-term and children's will be benefited from such an experience.
>> welcome back to this part of the program. i am your host, wu ray-kuo. we are continuing our conversation with repressor kung-yee liang, the president of yang-ming university in taipei, taiwan. we understand you studied in the united states and getting your phd from the diversity of washington aimed at biostatistics. you have been coming back to taiwan as a member of the academic senate and you felt taiwan national university, the college of public health, to establish a program on biostatistics in the 1980s. can you tell us a little bit
about that experience or process? >> sure. as a background information, i got my degree in 1882. ever since then, i've returned to taiwan every summertime hoping i can share what i have learned, some state of knowledge with the research in taiwan. biostatistics was very new at that time. so we have been holding several different workshops, hoping we can share our knowledge in taiwan. in 1993, there was a new college starting in public health. i spent a year helping to establish the program. some of the students have become
members and they are doing extremely well. some study abroad and a couple went to hopkins and wanted to become my students. so that was a good experience to have. i think it's a discipline in it provides a tool to help scientists interpret and analyze data. that was quite challenging and it takes different skills than one thought about. when i first came to the state, i never heard the word biostatistics. in 1996, i was appointed the first graduate program director.
at that time, many people, many students were interested in pursuing a degree, so i got an e-mail from the students -- i am weak in biology, can i pursue a statistics western mark can i join the program? that was one of the best programs in the world. so i give the one line answer that we are looking for strong quantitatively with interesting signs. that is what we are looking for and we've been getting a lot of students all over the world. some of which have returned to his taiwan since then. >> you were having such a wonderful career in the united
states. for faster of johns hopkins university, one of the leading universities in the states, if not the world, and you have been coming back to taiwan and helping universities and research institutions to get involved in the study of biostatistics. why did you make the decision to come back to taiwan on a permanent basis? what were some of the factors and motivations? >> actually, it is quite simple. i think i have a great job in the states working closely with right or festers and students. i always remind myself that my roots are in taiwan. like many of us, we are born and raised in taiwan. i hope i can spend the rest of my life to make some difference grade >> one of your motivations
was to help taiwan develop the talent and programs available in terms of i/o statistics and bio informatics. what do you think has been the progress in the last few years? >> think of biostatistics as an example. one of the challenges is to create job opportunities, a student getting into the program. that statement applies to any field. the medical community has recognized the need, but in terms of the statistic, it has not been that high. any good news is for the health research institute, which was founded in 1996. so they start with the tiny divisions and we were able to
persuade the director, the president who has become the first president of the national health institute. the need to establish biostatistics. he ought into that and persuaded the board to establish this division. that division now becomes part of the institute of health scientists and plays a crucial role in helping scientists advance in the field. >> when you first came back to taiwan, you are the vice president of the national health research institute very subsequently in 2010, you became the president of national yang- ming university. what has been the changes you are able to notice that has taken place in taiwan's research environment? have people been becoming more
independent or subject oriented and has the segmentation become more specific or has there been more international collaboration in many areas? i think the biomedical situation , i have two the government has been quite supportive in terms of financial support. allowing us to pursue several international programs, that is a good inc. have. in the meantime, i believe the gap in terms of research polity between taiwan and the rest of the world has narrowed. i think we are doing much better than 10 or 20 years ago and i think there are many reasons.
for several decades, i have encouraged students to study abroad. even when they stay, like myself, they have a chance to offer things and that environment has been helpful. bringing back the review system in the united states which has tended to be providing critical constructive review for the grants that are being submitted. all of that together means we have a much better environment which elevates the quality of research. >> has been significant progress in that area. when you came back to taiwan in 2003, that was at the conclusion of the sars outbreak. subsequently, two years later in 2005, there was the minor crisis
over the spread of hiv and one, the avian flu at the time. were there any moments of doubts in your mind, coming back to taiwan in a very difficult time, or were there moments of number bowl experience that managing these two outbreaks that you can share with us? rex i came back to taiwan in july of 2003 at the conclusion of the sars crisis. my family and wife, there was never any doubt in my mind. it's a commitment, of course trade fortunately, that thing was passed grade it turned out to be a minor crisis. i think there is an interesting story i would like to share.
i was honored to be part of the endeavor. the national health research institute is a mission-oriented institute as part of the department of health. during that time in april and may, during the wintertime, thinking they might have a break, and outbreak of h1n1. so we were charged to come up with a strategy to deal with that. the best strategy available is to come up with a vaccine, which is very difficult area we went through the review to find out the next test thing to do is identify the treatment that may be helpful. we identified tamiflu as one of the drugs that may be useful. it's not meant to treat it, but it is useful in the sense that
if you can identify the symptoms right away, within 24 hours, taking the tamiflu will help to lower your risk. it will reduce the chance to spread it out. so that's a good story in that we have challenged the legislators trained in medicine. you feel this is useless to spend time and budget to come up with tamiflu, but he is right from a clinical point of view. from a public health point of view, i think it was the right thing to do. so we are charged to develop the tamiflu which, violating the international law, because it is protected. we figured if we are going to
the national crisis, which is more important? it took us 18 days. that policy in the public domain. helping the local industry, in the meantime, we did the calculation thinking that should -- that it should help the supply of tamiflu. how much raw material do you have available? so with those arrangements, the department of health was able to
confirm or deal with roche and we could do it. i thought it was a good story. i'm not an expert in either one of the feels, but my role between the department of health and the national institute, as to what promise can be made and what we can do, so that was good. >> that was a very brave decision that took a lot of courage and conviction and we are certainly glad you made such a decision. we need to take the final break of our program and we will be right back.
>> welcome back to the final part of today's program. i'm your host, wu ray-kuo. we hope to wrap up this fascinating conversation with kung-yee liang yang-ming university, the president of here in taipei, taiwan. we understand a lot of the universities around the world are now advocating that students spend some time to get involved and make a commitment to international or to mastech volunteer programs. what are some of the programs available to students at that university and how do you encourage students to become more oriented toward international volunteer activities? lex maybe i should give a little background. yang-ming university was founded
in 1975. it was aimed to provide education for medical students to commit and go tothe needy area to narrow the gap in terms of medical care the president of the university at that time who passed away later on -- is one thing to provide support, but you need to have a commitment and feel wholeheartedly this is something you want to do. from the beginning, they create an environment, this organization by students called crusader. in the summertime, they go to
the area to interact with the residence and provide health education and figure out how they are different so that has been instrumental for our students. you notice that the health officials in taiwan, the graduates, including the first year, the former deputy minister of health and the director of the cdc, they are giving up the high salary. this kind of environment to me makes yang-ming university unique. i think that is important and i
think now we are actually expanding that, not just limited to local areas that to the international ones area we have one in place where a medical student can choose to spend a month in ithaca. last year, i was told that we and rolled about 120 students. about 88 students signed up. that shows how much that student really wanted to pursue them. i encourage you to share with the rest of the expense. i've heard some really touching stories. one of them came back to decide not to pursue a medical career. she did finish her degree and then went to paris to get a
degree in public health. she finished it and she is joining the ngo and doing the work in that area in mainland china. she is concerned about the spread of hiv. this is something we always want to encourage them to do, also joining volunteer activities. making sound health policy, there are many choices. >> looking back at your career, you have been mostly an educator. you taught at johns hopkins university 428 years before coming back to taiwan and in the years since you have come back, you always continue your research and to teach grade so
what does education mean to you? what does education and bodyand turns of core values? >> if i could sidetrack a little bit, they don't have undergraduate programs thomas i don't have that much experience interacting with the undergraduate students. it really is a joy. to me, education, the thing about education, words come to my mind of other people as well. one is knowledge and one is humanism and the other is value. in college, everyone is asked to declare a major. you need to have solid knowledge
or specialty. that is something you need to have. no doubt about that. but that is not sufficient now days with the world he coming so complicated. you need to have the ability to work with other people. you can have a notion of mutual respect and trust. you have the idea of compassion and self reflection. you also need to have the ability to acquire knowledge because there is no way you can learn everything in four years. you need to be logical. hopefully you can make the right decision and make an impact to society. but that is what holistic education is about grade it's
not just general education and basic education >> your family has noticed you have demonstrated interest in the field of mathematics at a very young age. subsequently, that has helped in terms of identifying your area of interest and pursuit. from the perspective of a long- term educated -- educator, what is the indications you can share with us if hair and do discover their parents may have a special interest in a certain area or has the potential to become -- to excel in a particular area? >> i taught about this question.
it is very simple but it turns out i could have a simple answer but it is probably more complicated than that area looking back myself, my parents are not well educated. they did not go to high school, but they noticed i love math and i could do calculations in my head, so that's how i find out. i would like to share with you the experience i noticed when my older son. he is also majoring in mathematics in college and he is a like seven or eight and he told his mom i don't want to go to school. i'm so bored grade so we talked to his teacher.
she noticed right away what happened was she felt because the material had not been challenging enough. so they put him in a higher level and ever since then, he never complained. so to me, what matters is the need to have clean eyes from parents and from teachers as well. i think that is what it takes. for a talent in music, there's a simple way to find out. that doesn't mean it is straightforward. some people cannot afford to have a piano. so take heart -- it is hard for some parents to identify grade there is a disparity there and i don't have an answer.
>> have a keen eye on the development. lex i would like to say something about the system in our culture. even when you have identified the child, sometime you think it's not going to have if you are strong in piano, it's not going to buy you a mercedes. it is important to let kids grow and let kids pursue their interest. that is probably more important as a young parent or >> i think your words are very sound advice. thank you very much for being a special guest on the program. we want to wish you and yang- ming university university -- yang-ming university the best in your endeavors. i will see you next time. thank you.